When Kanye West took the stage at the 2016 MTV Video Music Awards, he had four minutes to do literally whatever he wanted. Never one to waste the spotlight, ‘Ye premiered a sexy new video for his The Life of Pablo track “Fade” — but before he did that, he talked and talked and talked, name-dropping everyone from one-time romantic rival Ray J and wife Kim Kardashian West to ex-girlfriend Amber Rose and, of course, constant media sparring partner Taylor Swift. Because that’s what Kanye does. Read the entire transcript of Kanye’s speech below.
I am Kanye West, and that feels especially great to say this year. I came here to present my new video, but before I do that, I’mma talk. Now, later tonight, ‘Famous’ might lose to Beyoncé, but I can’t be mad. I’m always wishing for Beyoncé to win, so.
But for people to understand just how blessed we are… It was an expression of our now, our fame right now, us on the inside of the TV. You know, just to put… the audacity to put Anna Wintour right next to Donald Trump. I mean, like, I put Ray J in it, bro. This is fame, bro! Like, I see you Amber. My wife is a G. Not a lot of peoples’ wives would let them say that right there. We came over in the same boat. Now we all in the same bed. Well, maybe different boats, but uh.
But if you think about last week, there were 22 people murdered in Chicago. You know, like, people come up to me like, ‘Yeah, that’s right! Take Taylor!’ But bro, like, I love all y’all. That’s why I called her.
So I was speaking at the Art Institute last year, and a kid came up to me and said ‘Three of my friends died, and I don’t know if I’m gonna be the next.’ And it has to, you know you have to think, like, when you’re a senior and it’s the last month and you just don’t feel like doing any more work. If you feel like you seeing people dying right next to you, you might feel like, what’s the point? You know like life could be like, starting to feel worthless in a way. I know times for me, I sit down and talk to older, like, like, rich people. You know, a.k.a. white, you know. And they tell me, ‘Don’t compare yourself to Steve Jobs. Don’t compare yourself to Walt Disney,’ and my friend Zekiah [sp?] told me… they tell me, ‘Don’t compare yourself to these people, right.’ My friend Zekiah [sp?] told me there’s three keys to keeping people impoverished: that’s taking away their esteem, taking away their resources, and taking away their role models. My role models are artists, merchants. There’s less than ten that I can name in history. Truman. Ford. Hughes. Disney. Jobs. West.
Bro. Bro! Tonight, we here to have fun. I’m standing in front of my idol, Puff Daddy. I’m standing in front of my wife, Kim Kardashian West. I’m standing in front of the future: Chance the Rapper, 2 Chainz, Jaden Smith. Bro, we are undeniably the influence, the thought leaders. I’m gonna play y’all a piece of my art, and I just hope y’all have a good time. Play that.